As I write this, it’s being reported that the number of deaths from Covid-19 has topped 56,000 in the United States. Many people’s lives have been upended by the sudden need to practice social distancing and quarantine themselves inside of their homes. With the rise in deaths in the United States and around the world, some people may see playing video games as insensitive or frivolous given the circumstances. Is there any merit to this?
Let’s start with the reason for the quarantine and lockdowns. Covid-19 (the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-19 virus) is a highly communicable disease. While healthy people will likely exhibit mild symptoms if they contract the virus, people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly are much more vulnerable.
This is different than something like the flu where its effectiveness is blunted by yearly vaccines that are developed. There is currently no vaccine for Covid-19. Hence, the need for people to practice social distancing and stay in their homes.
However, many people are taking this time to catch up on things they normally would not have time, including video games. Instead of looking at this from a cynical view, let’s explore what we can benefit from playing games during this lockdown.
To be sure, I’m sure that many families are tired of spending this much time together in an enclosed space but hear me out. Video games are one of the primary ways that I spend time with my daughter. She loves to play Minecraft and Splatoon 2 (and occasionally Mario Kart 8).
I’m sure I’m not the only parent who should probably spend more time with their children. If I can make an appeal to scripture here, King Solomon exhorts the reader to “Train up a child in the way that he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6)”. We can’t train up our children if we don’t spend time with them.
In fact, I would argue that video games themselves can be a source for learning. Microsoft has an “Education Edition” of Minecraft specifically designed for teaching coding skills. There is a game on Steam called Silicon Zeroes that gamifies learning basic computer concepts such as how a CPU works.
This is a perfect time to learn new skills, especially computer skills. Why not spend time learning alongside your children using video games. I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in computer science so I may be a bit biased.
Education aside, many video games provide deep and enriching storylines that allow parents to talk with their children about it and search through what the Bible has to say about it. For example, Mass Effect is an excellent series to talk to teenagers (it is rated M after all) about the nature of life and what our mortality means on a temporal and eternity level.
A Good Distraction
Unfortunately, sin is real and for many, being stuck at home provides many temptations to indulge the flesh. In Romans 6:12, Paul instructs us to “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.”
Staying rooted in the word of God and constant prayer is the best way to defeat sin. We are grateful that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear and that He has given us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
What if video games could be a way out of sin? A distraction from sin?
If you are a gamer and struggle with temptation, I would encourage you to play more games (after reading your Bible and praying)! I would even say, pick a long game such as an RPG and immerse yourself in it. Let the engrossing stories and characters distract your mind from other things that may cause you to sin. Play strategy and puzzle games that force you to use your brain and think about solutions.
Allow gaming to be a means of grace that God can use for His glory.
It sucks to be stuck at home all day, I get it. However, this doesn’t have to be a time where you become stagnant in your faith. Let’s harness our love of gaming to spend more time with our families and conquer our sin to the glory of God. Amen.
What have you been doing to keep yourself distracted or busy during this staying at home time? If your reading this after the virus situation has ended, what do you normally do to keep yourself busy while at home? What games or projects are you working on?